Are you about to start university in the United States of America as a foreign student? You’re in for a lot of interesting and unique experiences! Living, working and studying in the USA can be fun, challenging and sometimes expensive. Don’t worry! There are plenty of steps you can take to save money while studying in the USA and have enough budget left over for food, living costs, and entertainment.
You may experience culture shock and miss your home and your family. Don’t let money add to your stress. Take some time to write down your long-term plans. Get ready to do a lot of research! The secret to saving money as a foreign student is to make sure you have a well-organized plan for all of your expenses and will yourself to try new experiences.
There’s no denying that flying is expensive, especially if you’d like to visit home during the holidays. You’ll need to do some online research and compare the best deals with websites such as www.kayak.com. Some websites, such as https://www.studentuniverse.com/, can also offer you student discounts.
Note that you may have to be a certain age and possess a student ID number in order to use these benefits. Try and be flexible – some flights are cheaper during certain days of the week.
- Bus, Bikes, and Walking
Get a hold of map for the local bus routes around your school. Some universities will even have their own bus that is free for students.
You might also consider investing in a bicycle, which is healthy and quick if you’re not traveling long distance. Walking is always a great option. Ask to walk with classmates who have similar schedules and avoid walking alone at night.
- Finding a Quick Ride
Phone applications such as Uber or Taxi Finder are fast and convenient ways to find transportation. Uber or taxi services available near your school can be safe options for late-night travel.
- Family Homestay Programs
As a foreign student hoping to study in the US, there are several programs available that will help you find a place to stay. Living with a host family is an affordable way to study in the US because they can help you out with food, laundry facilities, and other living expenses. They can also guide you around the area and help you get accustomed to American culture.
- Dorms Versus Off-Campus Housing
Living in a dormitory on at your school is a great way to become immersed in campus life and make new friends. However, this can add a hefty price tag to your expenses. Prices will vary, but you may have to pay upwards of $8,000 USD for room and board.
If you’re over 18, you can choose to live off-campus in your own house or apartment with a roommate to help pay for rent. Many university students in the US choose this route to save money by splitting their living expenses.
If you decide you’d like to start looking for a roommate, it’s ok to be picky. You want to find someone you can trust to help with the bills on time and be respectful of your personal space. Use websites such as www.roommates.com to find people who are compatible with your schedule and interests.
As an international student, you have access to hundreds of scholarships geared toward your needs and goals. The challenge is to find and apply for scholarships that will work for you and cover your expenses. Check out www.internationalstudent.com/scholarships/search/ to find dozens of scholarship options based on your location and field of study.
- Tutoring & Work Study
If you have excellent skills in an area of study such as mathematics or language, why not tutor other students to make some extra cash on the side? This is a great way to make connections with your fellow classmates and earn a little bit of money while you’re in school.
You can also sign up for a work study program with your university doing part-time or full-time work on campus. You can get authorized by registering for Work and Study Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
- Renting or Buying Used Textbooks
Textbooks are expensive but you don’t have to pay full price! Websites such as www.ecampus.com can help you search for textbooks to buy or rent at an affordable rate. You can also use the resources to sell back your textbooks when you’re done using them! Keep in mind that buying used books can save you a few extra dollars.
- Student Meal Plans
Your school will likely have various meal plan options available for students on a budget. If you’re staying in a dorm, you’ll also have the option to get on a campus meal plan.
Depending on your university and location, you may be able to get discounts at stores and restaurants for being a student.
- Smart Shopping
Going shopping for your own food can help you save money and eat healthy. Ask if the grocery stores around your area have free membership cards. Use the cards to receive discounts on food and toiletries. Shop in season – for more information about American seasonal fruits and veggies, check out www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.
- Cook at Home
While it’s tempting and convenient to eat out at restaurants, this will also put a strain on your budget. Many American restaurants are expensive, not including the fact that tips are expected!
Try shopping for basic ingredients and cooking simple, healthy meals at home. Meal prepping is a great way to save time and avoid eating out at the last minute.
- Campus Events
Most universities will have weekly or monthly events on campus that offer entertainment, fun or educational activities and free food. Sign up to your school’s newsletter or check the bulletin boards around campus. This is a great way to meet new people and gain new perspectives.
- Local Life
Whether you’re staying in a small college town or a large city, it might be fun to start exploring the local shops, attractions, community centers and public parks. Have your host family or roommates take you on a tour and ask about free or low-cost things to do around the area.
- Clubs and Organizations
Think of something that interests you and see if there are any local clubs or organizations around campus. Common types of clubs include book, science, sports, gaming and outdoor activities. Ask around and get involved with like-minded students while enjoying recreational activities for free.
- Read also: How parents can support students while preparing for exams.
Enjoy Your American Study Experience on a Budget
In order to save money while studying in the USA, you will need to be budget conscience, frugal and adaptive. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort and fun! Try to plan ahead as much as possible, and set aside what you can in case you need to quickly return home.
Always take advantage of free scholarships, programs, and clubs from your school and on the web. The more you research, the more options you’ll come across. Never be afraid to ask questions! By making connections and getting access to resources specialized for international students, attending university in the USA can be a positive and affordable experience.